With a number of high-profile players having left to join LIV, the door has been left open for a fresh crop of youngsters to make their mark on the world stage, writes BRENDAN BARRATT.
Ludvig Aberg (24)
He’s won on the DP World Tour, the PGA Tour and was part of the victorious European Ryder Cup team – all within six months of turning professional. In fact, Ludvig Aberg broke into the world’s top 50 before he even made his debut at a Major.
Now, thanks to his win at the RSM Classic, where he shot weekend rounds of 61 and 61 to win by four, the Swede will open his Major account at The Masters this year.
The former world No 1-ranked amateur will be one to keep an eye on this year, given his rapid rise to prominence in the professional game.
Min Woo Lee (25)
Lee had a breakout end to 2023, where he won the Macau Open and the Australian PGA Championship.
This came shortly after the Western Australian finished 10th in the 2023 Race to Dubai rankings, securing his playing privileges on the PGA Tour for 2024. He’s also stepped up his game when it comes to Majors, finishing tie-18th at The PGA and tie-fifth at the US Open.
At just 25 years of age, Min Woo has shown he has the potential to reach the dizzying heights of his sister, two-time Major champion Minjee Lee.
Sahith Theegala (26)
He may already be a PGA Tour winner, but Theegala could very well be on the verge of a massive year. Having finished 28th in the FedEx Cup standings in his rookie year, the 26-year-old followed that up with 31st place in 2023 and wouldn’t need much to click to make the next step up.
A great putter, his ninth–place finish at The Masters last year might well be an omen of what is to come from the American.
Casey Jarvis (20)
The former South African Amateur champion is one of the hottest prospects to come through the GolfRSA ranks.
A prolific winner in the amateur game, Jarvis turned professional in 2022 and played his way on to the European Challenge Tour. A win at the Euram Bank Open helped Jarvis finish the season ranked second on the Race to Mallorca ranking, earning his playing rights on the DP World Tour for 2024.
He’s certainly one to look out for this year.
Tom Kim (21)
Just 21 years of age, Kim is already a three-time PGA Tour winner and a fan favourite after his rousing performances at the 2022 Presidents Cup.
A final-round 61 saw him win the 2022 Wyndham Championship and he backed it up with victory at the 2022 Shriners Championship, becoming the first player since Tiger Woods to clock up two PGA Tour wins before the age of 21.
His Major form is also ominous, having finished tie-eighth and tie-second at the 2023 US Open and 2023 Open Championship respectively.
Akshay Bhatia (22)
A former golfing prodigy, Bhatia turned professional at 17, only to struggle a bit and land up on some of the mini Tours.
The left-hander had to wait almost two years for his breakthrough moment – a win in his first start on the Korn Ferry Tour. Even that wasn’t enough to secure a PGA Tour card as he finished the season in 30th spot on the Order of Merit.
The American secured Special Temporary Membership status after finishing runner-up at the 2023 Puerto Rico Open and later in the year claimed his first PGA Tour title – the Barracuda Championship.
After all of the initial struggles, you get the feeling Bhatia is ready to make 2024 a massive year.
Sungjae Im (25)
It’s hard to believe Sungjae Im is still only 25.
The Korean burst on to the scene in 2020, when he won the Honda Classic, before finishing runner-up at The Masters.
Im, together with countryman Si Woo Kim, narrowly avoided a compulsory two-year Korean army conscription by winning gold at the recent Asian Games.
With that weight off his shoulders, we are expecting a big showing from him this year.
Ryo Hisatsune (21)
The Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year on the DP World Tour made his presence felt in 2023. He finished 17th on the Race to Dubai, making 20 out of 27 cuts, including seven top 10s, and claimed his maiden title at the Cazoo Open de France.
Barely into his 20s, Hisatsune has the world at his feet and looks to be a real player.
Rasmus Hojgaard (22)
Aged just 22, Hojgaard has already notched up four DP World Tour titles – one more than his twin brother Nicolai, who was selected as a captain’s pick for the European Ryder Cup team last year.
Rasmus’ first win came in just his fifth start, at the age of 18, making him the third-youngest winner in DP World Tour history.
While Nicolai has taken most of the limelight of late, there’s every chance that Rasmus will be able to emulate his brother and play his way on to the PGA Tour.
– This article first appeared in the February 2024 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine.
Main photo: Alex Slitz/Getty Images